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Stress is something we all experience in our lives, whether it is a lot or just a little. You cannot avoid it completely, no matter how hard you try.

Stress is oftentimes described as an overwhelming feeling of helplessness and worry. It can affect people of all ages, and no one is completely immune to it. Regardless of your situation, there is always something to worry about, for the most part. While stress is not always a bad thing, it can really hold us back when we don’t know how to work through it.

Sometimes we end up way in over our heads and chronically stressed before we even realize there is a problem. We push ourselves too far and suffer because of it. Chronic stress can do serious harm to your health, whether you want to accept it or not. By reducing your stress levels, you are improving not only your emotional health, but also your health in general as well.

Stress according to Psychology Today can be defined as follows:

Stress generally refers to two things: the psychological perception of pressure, on the one hand, and the body’s response to it, on the other, which involves multiple systems, from metabolism to muscles to memory. Through hormonal signaling, the perception of danger sets off an automatic response system, known as the fight-or-flight response, that prepares all animals to meet a challenge or flee from it. A stressful event—whether an external phenomenon like the sudden appearance of a snake on your path or an internal event like fear of losing your job when the boss yells at you—triggers a cascade of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol, that surge through the body, speeding your heartbeat and the circulation of blood, mobilizing fat and sugar for fast energy, focusing attention, preparing muscles for action, and more. It generally takes some time for the body to calm down after the stress response has been triggered.

Lifesaving as the stress response is, it was meant to solve short-term, life-threatening problems, not extended difficulties such as daily traffic jams or marital problems. Prolonged or repeated arousal of the stress response, a characteristic of modern life, can have harmful physical and psychological effects, including heart disease and depression.

If you are someone that tends to bottle things up without noticing and becoming stressed without acknowledging it, you should try taking a stress test. Taking a stress test will let you know just how stressed you are and if you might have a bit too much on your plate. While the concept might sound silly, you’d be surprised at the things you learn about yourself through taking a stress test.

There are several ones available online and if you want to give the one I use a try you can click here. It is a test run by Mental Health America, which is a community-based nonprofit that works to address the needs of those living with mental illnesses across America. Once you have taken the test, you should check out the video below to find out what you can do to reduce your stress levels and really allow yourself to relax.